It's Time for Noah Syndergaard to Be First Yankees-Mets Blockbuster Trade Ever

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJuly 23, 2019

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Though the two clubs have shared a city for nearly 60 years, you only need about 30 seconds to breeze through the trading history of the New York Yankees and New York Mets.

Even that might seem like a chore once you actually get into it. For every Frank Tanana, David Justice, Robin Ventura and Armando Benitez who has changed hands, there seems to be three or four has-beens and never-weres. An extensive record of earth-rumbling blockbusters, it is not.

Perhaps that's nothing the God of Thunder can't fix.

With the July 31 deadline eight days away, there may be no bigger name on the summer trade market than "Thor" himself, Noah Syndergaard. The Mets have to salvage something, after all, from a season that's gone awry to the tune of a 45-54 record. Moving an ace right-hander whose stuff is, well, the stuff of legend out of Queens is arguably the best way they can do that.

Meanwhile in the Bronx, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is making no secret of his desire to add a starting pitcher:

The Yankees rotation has crumbled with a 4.96 ERA since the calendar flipped to June. The club's 64-35 record is the best in the American League anyway, yet this is an obvious hitch in its pursuit of its 28th World Series championship.

Trevor Bauer? Marcus Stroman? Madison Bumgarner? Matthew Boyd? Robbie Ray? All these players (and more) are in play for the Yankees on the trade market.

Yet Syndergaard may be the proverbial pie in the sky. There was a "real possibility" of the 26-year-old being dealt to the Yankees in December, according to Andy Martino of SNY. He's apparently still on their radar, as Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reported the Yankees had a scout in attendance when Syndergaard dominated the Miami Marlins on July 13.

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

There's more than just history and a less-than-subtle rivalry-related stigma working against the Yankees actually acquiring Syndergaard from the Mets.

Unlike fellow flamethrowing righty Zack Wheeler—who's due for free agency this offseason—Syndergaard is under the Mets' control through 2021. Rather than force a trade, they might prefer to keep him as a co-ace alongside reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.

In the words of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, per Kernan: "We have some expiring contracts that are attractive to people, and we have had a number of incoming calls about a number of players that we have control over beyond this year. But I think at this point we're expecting [deGrom and Syndergaard] to be a part of us going forward."

According to one GM who spoke to Jeff Passan of ESPN, it'll take "a few arms and a leg" to get the Mets to budge on Syndergaard.

That's where the Yankees may balk. As far as they may be concerned, Syndergaard's trade value ought to be down amid a season marred by career-worst marks in ERA (4.36) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.9).

Thor's arsenal of hammers is still intact, however. He's once again leading all qualified starters in average fastball velocity at 97.7 mph. He's also still throwing a slider, curveball and changeup, and his ability to make his pitches work together deserves an obligatory Rob Friedman GIF:

Syndergaard's strikeout rate may be down, but his contact rate is still better-than-average. His hard-hit rate is likewise there despite an increase in home runs allowed. His walk rate, meanwhile, is holding steady at 2.3 per nine innings.

All this shows Syndergaard has had a better season than his results indicate. It's also noteworthy that he front-loaded most of the bad stuff. Starting with a shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on May 2, he has a 3.57 ERA over his last 13 starts.

Other things about Syndergaard that should strike the Yankees' fancy are how he suppresses left-handed batters and his postseason track record. The extreme difficulty lefty batters have pulling fly balls against him would play well in tandem with Yankee Stadium's short right field porch. His October resume is limited yet highlighted by a 2.42 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 26 innings.

Of course, there's still the question of why the Mets would even negotiate with the Yankees. The short answer is because it presents the right kind of opportunity.

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

According to Martino, the Yankees are willing to move 24-year-old outfielder Clint Frazier so long as they get more than a rental in return. Per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, they've also taken the position that none of their prospects are untouchable.

Given that the Mets seem more interested in merely retooling rather than rebuilding, Frazier would be a sensible centerpiece in a Syndergaard deal. He's a talented hitter—he's posted an .843 OPS and 11 home runs in 53 games this season—who'd be under the Mets' control through 2023.

The Mets, however, might be coveting another centerpiece in the person of 20-year-old righty Deivi Garcia.

They've scouted him, according to Martino. In so doing, they might have seen why he's the Yankees' No. 1 prospect at Baseball America. He's been downright electric this season in racking up a 3.17 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 76.2 innings across three levels of the minors, including Triple-A.

Other Yankees trade chips who could be in play are fellow righties Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Gil and Albert Abreu. The Mets might also target 21-year-old outfielder Estevan Florial. He's only advanced as far as High-A, but his bucket of tools points to a potential All-Star future.

Save for maybe Frazier, the Yankees would be loath to part with any of these guys. But with their first AL East title since 2012 and first World Series championship since 2009 in their sights, now is no time for the Bronx Bombers to prioritize the protection of their farm system over the enhancement of their major league roster.

As much as the Mets might not want to deal with their cross-city rivals, it would help if they perceive a Syndergaard trade as a chance to net a haul of franchise-altering talent for what amounts to a depreciated asset.

All told, now is as good a time as any for these two clubs to finally make their trading history one worth reading.

   

Stats accurate through Sunday and courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.


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